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Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Sri Lanka Bombings

In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, a view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Chamila Karunarathne, file/AP)
In this Sunday, April 21, 2019, a view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Chamila Karunarathne, file/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

We look at the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 320 people. Is this the beginning of dark times in Sri Lanka?


Anusha Ondaatjie, Colombo bureau chief for Bloomberg News.

Amarnath Amarasingam, senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Author of “ Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada.” ( @AmarAmarasingam)

Zachary Abuza, professor of national security strategy at the National War College, where he focuses on Southeast Asian politics and security issues. Author of “ Forging Peace in Southeast Asia: Insurgencies, Peace Processes, and Reconciliation,” among others. ( @ZachAbuza)

From The Reading List

Bloomberg: “ Islamic State Says Its Fighters Carried Out Sri Lanka Attacks” — “Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist blasts in Sri Lanka, as investigations intensified into Sunday’s coordinated attacks that killed 321 people in churches and high-end hotels.

“‘Those who carried out the attack that targeted citizens belonging to the alliance countries and Christians in Sri Lanka are fighters with the Islamic State,’ according to a statement on IS news agency Amaq carried by SITE, which tracks jihadist groups.

“‘Alliance countries’ refers to those involved in the U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State in Syria, which includes 79 nations from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, although Sri Lanka is not among them. Just last month the U.S. declared that the last swath of territory once held by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been liberated.

“It’s too early to say the extent of involvement — if any — the Islamic State group had in the planning and coordination of the Easter Sunday attacks, said Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a London-based researcher who tracks Islamic State and maintains a database of the group’s archives.”

BBC: “ Sri Lanka attacks: ‘International network’ linked to bombings” — “A wave of bombings that killed 290 people in Sri Lanka on Sunday was carried out with the support of an international network, officials said.

“The government has blamed a little-known local jihadist group, National Thowheed Jamath, although no-one has yet admitted carrying out the bombings.

“Another 500 people were injured in the suicide attacks on churches and hotels.

“Police arrested 24 people in a series of raids and the president’s office declared a state of national emergency.

“The emergency declaration, which comes into effect from midnight (19:30 GMT) on Monday, will give police and military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.”

NBC News: “ Sri Lanka was warned about terrorist plot weeks ago” — “Sri Lankan authorities were warned about a terrorist plot two weeks before a series of Easter Sunday blasts that killed at least 290 people, government officials confirmed Monday.

“Rajitha Senaratne, the country’s health minister and a spokesman for its Cabinet, said international intelligence agencies had informed Sri Lankan counterparts on April 4 that churches and tourist destinations were being targeted. Five days later, police were given the names of suspects behind the plot.

“A wave of near-simultaneous explosions carried out by seven suicide bombers hit three churches and three luxury hotels on Sunday, officials said. Police later reported two further blasts. A minivan exploded in Colombo on Monday, as bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it. No injuries were immediately reported.”

New York Times: “ Victims of Sri Lanka Attacks: Who They Were” — “The true toll of Sunday’s attacks in Sri Lanka was starting to come into focus on Monday, as family members, government officials and news reports offered the first glimpse of the people who lost their lives.

“Officials have confirmed citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed in the attacks.

“Information about Sri Lankan victims was initially sparse, but the names of some foreign victims began to appear in the international news media, a few of which The Times was able to confirm. We will update this article as we learn more about the people who died.”

Stefano Kotsonis produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.